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Monday, February 20, 2012

Lakeside hiking in Prescott

LOWER GRANITE CREEK SCENIC TRAILS
City of Prescott Mile-High Trail System

Lakeside views, millions of ducks and route-finding through a maze of  1.4 billion-year-old granite  rock formations keep things interesting on this intertwined collection of short trails. Although there are countless ways to explore these scenic gems, here's how we hit the dirt on this past Saturday. The plan:
From the trailhead, follow Peavine Trail  north to the turnoff on the right for Lakeshore Trail—there's a big boulder with a plaque just past the 1 mile post.  From here, finding your way is easy. Trail signs with maps are placed roughly every quarter-mile and where the trail crosses slick rock; follow the painted white dots to stay on course.  The first detour comes at the Treehouse Loop---a very rocky segment that's sure to bring the kid out in you, and yup, there really is a treehouse lodged in an alligator juniper.  Next up is a little traipse to Secret Cove, which is worth the diversion if only to  creep up on the Great blue herons and egrets that love the seclusion afforded by this mini fjord.
Farther along is the Over the Hill trail which crosses Boulder Creek on its way to  Watson Dam.  This winding path is almost 100% on bare rock and includes a couple of slick/steep sections. Near the end, the trail dips down to Granite Creek and swings south following the reed-lined stream to a narrow metal bridge below the dam that connects hikers to the Flume/Watson Dam Trails that lead to the Granite Dells Road trailhead.  As we didn't park a car at the at the north access, we hiked back the way we came.

LENGTH:  up to 6 miles
Lakeshore Trail: 2 miles one way, 5,160' – 5,220'
Over the Hill Trail: 0.4 mile one way, 5,076'-5,194'
Discovery Trail: 0.8 mile one way, 5,158' – 5,188'
Tree House Loop-Secret Cove: 0.1 mile each
Watson Dam-Flume Trail: 1.17 miles one way, 5,057' – 5,186'


RATING: easy-moderate (good balance and traction footwear is required!)
DOGS: This is a sensitive bird habitat--leashed dogs are allowed.
KID-FRIENDLY:  yes
FACILITIES: port-o-potties.  New restrooms are in the works and should be installed by June 2012, picnic tables, maps
FEE:  $2 daily parking fee
HOURS: 5 a.m (7 a.m. In winter) to 10:00 p.m.
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 112 miles one way
GETTING THERE:
South Access: Peavine-WatsonWoods trailhead:
1626 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott.
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to Cordes Junction  exit 262 for Prescott  AZ 69.  Turn west and follow AZ 69 32 miles to Prescott.  Just outside of downtown, pass Walker Road and begin looking for Prescott Lakes Parkway---located across from the Prescott Gateway Mall where there's a huge Cadillac dealership. Turn right (north) on Prescott Lakes Pkwy and continue 1.7 miles to Sundog Ranch Road, turn right and go 0.2 mile  to Peavine Trail/Watson Woods Riparian Preserve parking area.
North Access:
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to Cordes Junction  exit 262 for Prescott  AZ 69.  Turn west and follow AZ 69 32 miles to Prescott.  Connect with AZ89 and go north to Granite Dells Road, turn right (east) and continue to the parking area on the right.

INFO & MAPS: City of Prescott
MORE PHOTOS:

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